108 Waverly | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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108 Waverly

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108 WAVERLY, Bailiwick Repertory. This bland yet bitter world-premiere musical by Dan Clancy is a sad indication of the caliber of new works on gay themes. Aggravatingly dull, the show depicts two male couples living at the same address, 108 Waverly, at different times. In 1928 a schoolteacher tries to convince his partner to move in with him despite his beau's self-loathing wish to avoid being identified as queer. And in 1998 the relationship sours between a randy club hopper and his sensitive homebody partner, who longs to adopt. The unlikable characters (the occasional exception is Rodrigo Ignacio Cruz's schoolteacher) are pictures of neediness, fear, anger, or willful stupidity. And the couples are so mismatched that it's impossible to believe in a happy ending.

Clancy's lyrics are lackluster, and composer Lynn Portas dully distinguishes the two eras simply by switching between electronic keyboard and piano. Three of the four actors have adequate voices individually, but when all four sing together they induce cringes. Only Brannen Daugherty brought enough energy to a solo to rouse the audience to a smattering of applause.

Director David Zak creates plenty of chances for the couples to unwittingly share the same space--but not in any meaningful way. Paint drips are visible on Noelle C.K. Hathaway's set, Jared Moore's lighting is better suited to a rock video, and Brigitte Ditmar's choreography, while right for the periods, is just one more forced element in a thoroughly disappointing show.

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